Exercise is Medicine

Physical inactivity is a fast-growing public health problem and contributes to a variety of chronic diseases and health complications, including obesity, diabetes and cancer. In addition to improving a patient’s overall health, increasing physical activity has proven effective in the treatment and prevention of chronic diseases. Even with all the benefits of physical activity, in Canada and many other countries, levels of inactivity are alarming. We are facing what is now referred to as an “inactivity epidemic,” with tremendous costs. According to the World Health Organization’s most recent Global Health Risks data (2004) after high blood pressure, tobacco use and high blood glucose, physical inactivity constitutes the 4th leading cause of death globally, with about 3.3 million attributable deaths per year.

Many research studies have shown the benefits of regular physical activities. To stay healthy, Canadian physical activity guidelines recommend that adults aged 18 years and older should participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every week. It is also beneficial to add muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscle groups at least 2 days per week.

Research shows that a low level of physical activity exposes a patient to a greater risk of dying than does smoking, obesity, hypertension, or high cholesterol, and for older men, regular physical activity can decrease the risk of death by 40%.  Additionally, active individuals in their 80s have a lower risk of death than inactive individuals in their 60s. In fact, a low level of fitness is a bigger risk factor for mortality than mild-moderate obesity. It is better to be fit and overweight than unfit with a lower percentage of body fat. Adults with better muscle strength have a 20% lower risk of mortality (33% lower risk of cancer specific mortality) than adults with low muscle strength demonstrating the importance of strength training. 

Regular physical activity can:

  • Reduce the risk of recurrent prostate cancer by 57%.
  • Reduce mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by approximately 50%.
  • Lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60%. 
  • Reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by approximately 40%. 
  • Reduce the incidence of heart disease and high blood pressure by approximately 40%. 
  • Lower the risk of stroke by 27%. 
  • Lower the risk of developing type II diabetes by 58%.
  • Be twice as effective in treating type II diabetes than the standard insulin prescription and can save $2250 per person per year when compared to  the cost of standard drug treatment.
  • Can decrease depression as effectively as Prozac or behavioural therapy.  

Exercise is Medicine is an initiative focused on encouraging primary care physicians and other health care providers to include exercise when designing treatment plans for patients. At Body + Soul Fitness we are committed to working with the medical community to make exercise and physical activity an integral part of the prevention and treatment of chronic disease.  Therefore, in conclusion, we call on each person and all partners dedicated to the idea that exercise truly is medicine to continue to build, support and advocate for physical activity as essential for global health and well-being by committing to action.

Call us today to find out how to get started or click here to find your local club.